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Health information technology and physicians' knowledge of drug costs.

  • Author(s): Tseng, Chien-Wen
  • Brook, Robert H
  • Alexander, G Caleb
  • Hixon, Allen L
  • Keeler, Emmett B
  • Mangione, Carol M
  • Chen, Randi
  • Jackson, Eric A
  • Dudley, R Adams
  • et al.

To examine whether physicians' use of information technology (IT) was associated with better knowledge of drug costs.A 2007 statewide survey of 247 primary care physicians in Hawaii regarding IT use and self-reported knowledge of formularies, copayments, and retail prices.Approximately 8 in 10 physicians regularly used IT in clinical care: 60% Internet, 54% e-prescribing, 43% electronic health records (EHRs), and 37% personal digital assistants (PDAs). However, fewer than 1 in 5 often knew drug costs when prescribing, and more than 90% said lack of knowledge of formularies and copayments remained a barrier to considering drug costs for patients. In multivariate analyses adjusting for sex, practice size, years in practice, number of formularies, and use of clinical resources (eg, pharmacists), use of the Internet -- but not e-prescribing, EHRs, or PDAs -- was associated with physicians reporting slightly better knowledge of copayments (adjusted predicted percentage of 23% vs 11%; P = .04). No type of IT was associated with better knowledge of formularies or retail prices.Despite high rates of IT use, there was only a modest association between physicians' use of IT and better knowledge of drug costs. Future investments in health IT should consider how IT design can be improved to make it easier for physicians to access cost information at the point of care.

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